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Vegetarians have longer life expectancy than meat eaters, finds study

11 commentsBy Nathan Gray , 16-Oct-2012

Following a vegetarian diet could mean you live more than nine years longer than you might by consuming meat based diets, according to new research findings.

The study data, released by researchers at the Loma Linda University, USA, finds that people following a vegetarian diet have a number of health benefits compared to those who consume meat – and top of those benefits is a longer lifespan, with vegetarian men living an average of 9.5 and women an average of 6.1 years longer than meat munching counterparts.

The data – presented at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ 2012 Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo – come from the Adventist Health Study-2 cohort, which is currently midway to completion. The study is following 96,000 US and Canadian citizens – including thousands of  Seventh-day Adventists – to ascertain the potential health implications of vegetarian and meat based diets.

Seventh-day Adventists have long been known as advocates of a vegetarian diet.

Lead researcher, Gary Fraser revealed that the preliminary findings from the new study show that vegans are, on average, 13 kilograms lighter than meat eaters and five units lighter on the Body Mass Index (BMI) scale than meat-eaters.

Fraser also claimed that pesco-vegetarians and semi-vegetarians who limit animal products, but still eat meat once a week or so, have ‘intermediate protection’ against lifestyle diseases.

Study details

The study data suggests that vegetarian Adventist men tend to live to an average of 83.3 years, while vegetarian women live 85.7 years – this is an average of 9.5 and 6.1 years respectively longer than other Californian citizens, Fraser explained.

Fraser revealed that the Adventist Health Study 2 found:

  • Vegans are, on average, 30 pounds lighter than meat eaters. 
  • Vegans are also five units lighter on the BMI scale than meat-eaters. 
  • Vegetarians and vegans are also less insulin resistant than meat-eaters. 
  • Lean people are also more likely to exercise regularly, eat plants, and avoid cigarettes than overweight people, suggesting that numerous factors are boosting the overall health of these participants. 
  • Pesco-vegetarians and semi-vegetarians who limit animal products, but still eat meat once a week or so, have "intermediate protection" against lifestyle diseases. 
  • Obesity cuts an African-American's life span by 6.2%.

11 comments (Comments are now closed)

I tried a vegan diet

I gave up all meat and fish and most dairy including eggs and cheese for about a year(over 15 years ago aged in my mid 40s) and subsequently began to experience heart rhythm problems. I used to run for exercise but had to stop due to recurrent extrasystoles which medical tests could not explain. Eventually I was prone to prolonged periods of extrasystoles even at rest, which was very uncomfortable. I reintroduced oily fish to my diet and gradually began to notice an improvement. Eggs and normal milk as well as cheese found their way back into my diet. The spontaneous resting extra systoles faded away and eventually I was able to exercise moderately again. It was some years before I had the confidence to get back into running and initially got some recurrence of problems. I started taking bottled cod liver oil daily which appeared to help and made a point of having oily fish several times a week, usually for lunch. I now enter running events(which I never did before) in my 60s with no heart rhythm problems to report.
I fit what is known as a pesco-lacto-ovo-vegetarian, still not eating any meat for around 15 years. Could a lack of fish or adequate omega 3s have contributed to this problem?

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Posted by chris aylmer
03 November 2012 | 16h53

Yeah sure...

And they take all that extra time on their life span boring the rest of us, telling us how healthy their life style is. Who cares!?
I'm never giving up bacon!

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Posted by Jerry
21 October 2012 | 10h25

Study may not reflect average vegetarian

One factor that may be producing this effect is that 7th Day Adventists are masterful in their analysis of nutritional properties of the food they consume, with precision knowledge of medicinal benefits of foods, whereas many other people are not necessarily so knowledgeable about the qualities of the foods they are eating.

Attend educational 7th Day Adventist seminars on vegetarianism and you will see what I mean, as they offer people an absolutely huge array of mouth-watering dishes that most vegetarians may not have tried before.

As an organization they offer each other mutual support with an absolutely huge database of information on recipe, nutrition tips, and of course encouragement.

Other vegetarians may not end up being so healthy as they are often simply cutting out meat in blind faith without knowing what they should use in it's place. For instance, vegans may start to use Vitamin B12 tablets, without knowing that the vast majority of B12 available in supplemental form is a synthetic molecular structure that bears only a vague resemblance to the real B12 molecule that we actually need to avoid dementia through eventual brain tissue deterioration, and only a very tiny proportion of that actually ends up being absorbed by the body, and what it ends up accomplishing is rather doubtful, as many people are familiar with the 'typical' cranky nature of some vegans who have not done their research and are paying the price.

Certain fats in butter are also responsible for producing a calmer and more relaxed feeling in the brain, and the absence of these in the vegan diet is said to be partly responsible for the less relaxed attitude of some vegans, though hemp oil is said to contain all EFA's the human body needs. I was a vegan for 2 years, 30 years ago, in the days when it was almost literally an act of faith, with no real knowledge of where to get real B12 from except from Marmite, and several 'vegans' I know who have stayed with the vegan diet have deteriorated mentally. Even though I was a member of the Vegan society, articles in the magazines they published turned out sometimes to be based on fanaticism and propaganda rather than science. Several people I know who went Vegan suffered bone loss and ended up with painful hips. That is because vegans have to eat a mountain of food every day, and expense issues as well as food preparation time issues and the issue of cramming vast amounts of albeit enzyme-rich foods into your stomach limit the eventual effectiveness of the diet, as the liver ends up overburdened paradoxically, due to issues related to how the liver handles those foods. Only a very few Vegans make it successfully, the rest are often sickly, because ultimately, Veganism is based on wishful thinking and an almost religious belief in reality, as the human body cannot produce it's own B12, and if we tried to be Vegan using foods naturally available to us normally, we would simply die.

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Posted by mothman777
20 October 2012 | 17h04

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